We’ve reported on this in the past, and now it’s official: Fayetteville (N.C.) officials say they want a new downtown-area ballpark to host a Minor League Baseball team as part of a larger development.
A new ballpark for a Class-A or Double-A is officially on the wish list of the city as they plan a mixed-use development near Murchison Road, adjacent to downtown and Fayetteville State University. The development, which would also include a parking garage, would serve as a gateway of sorts to downtown.
We reported back in May that pro baseball was once again on Fayetteville’s radar as city officials were exploring downtown revitalization plans. Fayetteville is a large market (200,439 in 2014) and has a track record of supporting baseball in recent years, as evidenced by the popularity of the Fayetteville SwampDogs (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League), even though J.P. Riddle Stadium is a little out of the way. But downtown is doing better, as the city has worked hard to change the business mix (fewer strip clubs, more restaurants and family-friendly businesses).
Like many looking at new ballparks, city officials, who outlined the development proposal at a press conference today, are looking to the Durham Bulls (Class AAA; International League) as a model for ballpark-area development. Durham is a go-to destination for team owners to show how a ballpark can be a catalyst for private investment. The city built DBAP, but Capitol Broadcasting — the Bulls’ owner — invested in the area surrounding the ballpark, as did other private firms. The public/private partnership was most recently pitched by Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) managing partner Larry Lucchino as a model for what could happen in downtown Providence with a proposed new ballpark.
In any case: the interest in Minor League Baseball is now officially out in the open. Let’s see if the interest is reciprocated.